The “irony” of our approach to improvisation

Improvisation, by definition, means that we don’t know what’s going to happen, or how we’re going to get where we’re going.

We start baking bread and find we don’t have enough flour. So we improvise. (“Hmmm… what if I put some oats in the food processor and use that to supplement to flour I have?”)

We help our child with her art project and find that we don’t have enough tape to hold the paper together. So we improvise. (“Let’s see… do we have any glue?”)

That’s what improvisation is: “finding our way” with what we have.

But with music, we sometimes don’t trust this. We want to be sure it’s going to turn out OK. We want to know in advance that our solo will be great.

But these attitudes ultimately hold us back. They prevent the magic from happening. They inhibit the creative flow.

Let go. Plunge in. Surprise yourself. It may work, and it may not. But either way, you’ll get another chance to try again. That’s the nature of improvising and it’s where the real possibilities lie. Enjoy the sense of discovery and don’t hold yourself back. Let the music flow.

Take your left hand playing to a new level with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration

Leave a Comment

Sign up for Blog Updates